updated 03:15 pm EDT, Mon June 30, 2008
Sony Touch Feedback Patent
Sony is exploring the development of a likely game-oriented touchscreen device that may also be a communicator, according to a newly published US patent filing. A patent shows a handheld touch device that would allow both direct and gesture-based input and which would also provide force feedback across the entire display through a system known as "tactile pixels;" a grid of small bumps would lift to reach the screen and help simulate physical button presses or other effects based on touch input.
A handheld using the technologies in the patent could also have an accelerometer to measure tilting movements as well as a microphone for voice conversations, according to the filing.
Sony is under no obligation to use the techniques described in the patent but takes care to describe an example device as being suitable as phone in addition to a game console, media player and Internet navigator, making any production version of the device a likely direct contender against the iPhone or iPod touch, both of which are some of the only devices to include all the technology save for tactile pixel feature.
Notably, the device's sole inventor is listed as former Sony Computer Entertainment director Phil Harrison, suggesting the device is or was intended as a future replacement for the PlayStation Portable or an entirely new gaming phone. [via PSP Fanboy]